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Dal Muslim face revolts against Nitish

Patna, Oct. 25: Cracks in the ruling JD(U) came out in the open with the party’s minority community face from the Seemanchal region, Mohammad Taslimuddin (69), revolting against chief minister Nitish Kumar in the run-up to the Adhikar Rally.

A six-time MLA and three-time MP, Taslimuddin was food and civil supplies minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-I. He is angry with Nitish for “not implementing the development schemes” in the Muslim-dominated Purnea commissionerate comprising Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar and Purnea.

“He (Nitish) is only laying foundation stones, he is not doing anything substantial on the ground. The work on the over Rs 1,200 crore Mahananda river irrigation project is pending for the past eight years. Several other schemes aimed at improving the condition of the poor Muslims in the area are lying pending,” Taslimuddin told The Telegraph, adding that he would not mind if Nitish drove him out of the party.

The Bihar chief minister is already under pressure. He is facing protest from a section of people — mainly from over 2.5 lakh contract teachers — at his Adhikar Yatras. Taslimuddin’s “revolt” in such a situation is not being seen as a good sign for the JD(U). But Dal sources said Taslimuddin’s “rebellion” was a “pressure tactics” and he did not have the real intent to quit the JD(U). Despite Taslimuddin’s ostensible posture against Nitish’s “failure” to carry out development work in the Seemanchal area, the Muslim stalwart’s marginalisation in the party is believed to be a major factor for the latter turning acerbic against Nitish.

After Taslimuddin joined the JD(U), the party gave his son, Sarfaraz, ticket from the Araria Assembly seat. Sarfaraz won but did not get a berth in Nitish’s cabinet. Taslimuddin has not been given any pivotal political position after joining the JD(U) either. Sources close to Taslimuddin revealed that the Muslim leader wanted at least a berth in Rajya Sabha and a cabinet berth for his son.

What has angered Taslimuddin more is the all-out attack on him by the BJP following the latter getting critical to Nitish. “I am really perplexed at Nitish maintaining studied silence at the BJP leaders attacking me. It is known to all that the BJP is an anti-Muslim party and they have all along attacked me for political reasons,” Taslimuddin said.

Taslimuddin had deserted the RJD ahead of the 2010 Assembly elections to join the JD(U), serving a jolt to the M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) equation of the RJD chief, Lalu Prasad. He is yet to show any proclivity to rejoin the RJD, but his outburst against Nitish has added to the music to the ears of the RJD leaders.

“He (Taslimuddin) and several other leaders who had crossed over to the JD(U) are in touch with the RJD. But the final decision on their inclusion in the RJD rests with the party chief,” said a senior RJD leader.